What I also realized was the transition from hobby farm to professional boarding facility was hard on everyone especially the boarders who were at my farm before we built our new barn. I am no different than most people that get into the boarding business and want to make a living at it. Most of us start out with a couple of friends who keep their horses at our homes and one day we wake up and start talking about,"What if we build and make this our career." If you talk to a hundred different people in the boarding business you will find out that the majority have the same story. It's the perfect dream to think about.
Before we built our new barn and indoor arena I only had my daughters two ponies and two friends horses at our farm. A total of four horses and life was very simple. I really didn't have any rules (after all why would I need them) and there really was never any problems. Our board was very inexpensive at the time for our boarders and it fit what we had to offer here on the farm. When we drew up the plans for our new barn and arena and came time to build, with that came a very large business mortgage.
My husband and I had put together our business plan and had estimated what we were going to need per horse for income to make a go of this. That meant we were going to have to talk to our friends and let them know the board would be increasing substantially. Our two boarders were very excited that we were going to build a large indoor and they were not planning on leaving but it was still very hard to talk with them about the board increase that would take place when the indoor arena was complete.
So many things went through my head. Was the new board rate going to be too much for them? They are very used to having a huge tack room to themselves and now they would be sharing with several people. I was worried that the transition of these things would cause some stress. I was good friends with these people and I didn't want to lose them as boarders. More changes or growing pains as I like to call them were coming up fast and I didn't see them coming. After our barn was complete and we were in full operation, we had about forty horses on our farm. It was a huge change from four horses. Life became very busy and crazy all at once and I realized I needed barn rules and needed them fast.
The new boarders coming in didn't know any different so for me to hand out barn rules was not a big thing at all. For the two people that we had at our barn from the beginning I am sure all the rules came as a surprise. All of a sudden my two original boarders had to do things differently then they had done the two years before. I was changing things left and right and I was dealing with situations I had never dealt with before and I wanted so bad to exclude my two friends from all the rules but I had to treat everyone equal and the rules had to stay the same for everyone. I didn't know at the time how hard it would be for me and how hard it was on my friends that had helped me so much through this whole process of starting our business.
Looking back those were very difficult times starting out. Growing pains will happen when you start a new business and depending on how you handle it, it can go pretty smooth or it can get ugly. We had many ups and downs over the first year but now I know most new businesses do. We have been in business for ten years now and we have gone through growing pains a few times over the years as David and I wanted to change the direction we were going. It happens and you need to be prepared for it.
The one thing I can share with you is the longer you are in business and the more you experience the ups and downs of owning and running your horse business, the more confident you will be in handling the growing pains when they come.
The longer you are in business and the more you experience the ups and downs of owning and running your horse business, the more confident you will be in handling the growing pains when they come.
If I can give any advice to someone that is starting a new horse business, find yourself a mentor. Someone who is a positive person and whom you trust and go to them when you start to feel the stress of growing pains. I can promise you that you will have some kind of growing pains during the first year or two of business and it will come in many different forms. I wish I would have done this. I kept so much to myself the first year and didn't think anyone else had gone through what we were going through. It can be a very lonely feeling. Believe me it is more common than you think.
Building our new barn and starting our new business was a learning experience on many different levels. I love my job and I am so glad the growing pains have been gone for a long time. You will get there also. It just takes time, patience and I believe a little prayer goes a long way.
If you are new to my blog, then welcome! If you are feeling the stress of issues or growing pains at your barn, I encourage you to check out my newest book, "The Total Horse Barn Management Makeover." I will give you practical business wisdom from someone who has made many mistakes along the way and turned a struggling boarding facility into a healthy barn with clients that have made it their home. You won't find another book that talks about the real life struggles that barns owners and managers go through while running a business and this book will give you the tools to make the changes you want to make and move forward. I believe this book will inspire you in more ways than you could imagine.
I wish you the very best in your horse business,